6-12-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
Only in the world of covering the Pittsburgh Pirates can someone who predicts 70 wins be considered “positive”. Or, oh my god, a defender of Nutting!
Look, Bob Nutting and MLB put this franchise in this situation, but right this second, this is very much so a Ben Cherington creation. Meaning it was his pitch to the team in order to get hired. Total tear down. Build through the draft and trades. Develop and augment.
He didn’t just pitch the team that he’d have this franchise back in the playoffs in a year or two, he specifically sold that he was going to tear everything down, including the entire development system itself.
This meant most stars would be shipped, if you believe they had many to begin with. It meant the team was going to absolutely bottom out and ultimately because they said the words, it meant when this front office felt they had enough pieces in place, they’d have the finances in place and at hand to add what they needed to add.
That was never, ever going to be in 2022.
I know some tried to fill your head with visions that Nick Gonzales (AA), Liover Peguero (AA), Quinn Priester (AA when he’s done with rehab in Low A), hell I saw some trying to tell you Henry Davis (AA when he’s done with his second rehab in Low A) would be here this year.
It’s frustrating. I totally get it. This team has been bad for years now. And we’re in the 3rd year in which that’s being managed by Ben Cherington.
In that time you’ve watched a bunch more leave that could have helped, than come in who could help, well, until this season anyway.
The record prediction of 70 wins was made for one simple fact, kids play like kids. Sometimes they excel, sometimes they stink, ALL of them need time.
Coming out of a sweep of LA and series win against Arizona, some of those same voices who tried to sell you on 2022 being a year of taking a huge jump looked down at their seat and realized they sat in a wet spot. Heck, some started telling you they should “go for a wildcard”.
Not me. See Mr. Positive that I am, I told you this 8 game stretch against Atlanta and St. Louis was going to be really tough. In fact I told you I wouldn’t even want to play LA for 3 more pretending like it’s some kind of horrible matchup for the Dodgers.
It’s a young team, filled to the gills with rookies and young players, that’s just never going to equal a playoff team.
Now, give it time, add in a few more, maybe even augment it a bit this off season and ok, we can talk about a team that SHOULD be in the hunt for a .500 record and a wild card race in 2023.
All of that is still on the table, hell all of that is still on track.
Nobody has forgotten who the owner is. Nobody has forgotten what he’ll have to do to make this all work. More than anything, nobody has forgotten his awful track record for doing so.
I never tell you this WILL work, not so far as a championship anyway. I tell you as far as the team building process, it’s where I expected it to be. A bunch of youth injected this year, finding guys who fill holes and at least secure themselves as the players the next group has to jump.
For instance, in the early going here, I’ve been impressed by Tucapita Marcano, and honestly, I didn’t expect to be. He was a guy I quite frankly didn’t count on and seeing him up here taking really good at bats, making hard contact against both lefty’s and righty’s, playing a strong left field with a strong arm and playing an athletic and smart second base, man that’s a bonus. Point is, that’s not what I expected to see from the kid, and now I’m starting to think he’s at least making a case that he should enter 2023 fully in the mix.
Of all the fake forecasted future lineups out there, not many had that kid listed.
This situation, and others like it are why you don’t flood a team at this stage with veteran signings. You remember, that was the preseason bitch. Could they have signed a few more vets and maybe taken advantage of a poor division to get that wild card this year? Probably, and it probably wouldn’t have taken much. A better first baseman, a corner outfielder, another starter, and you’re probably there or at least closer.
ALL those rookies though, and all the ones that still aren’t here suffer from that. There is no extended look at Diego Castillo if the team stocked with vets. Now, we may accomplish nothing more than to learn that Castillo is at best a bench player, we may ultimately learn when things get where they want them to, he’s simply out of the picture altogether. Who knows right? But wouldn’t it be better to feel like you have a pretty firm grasp on that answer or at least which direction it’s headed as we move into 2023?
None of this makes it easy to watch, at least not for everyone, but to me, understanding what I’m watching and why beyond lazily pointing and yelling about the owner makes it fun. I’ve watched them develop in the minors, and the timing of which has made 2022 almost have to look like this.
All of that and I can still say, they could have not pissed with Roansy early on so you’d have him in the rotation from the jump. That’s probably worth a win or two. They could have not pissed with Cruz and after all his errors and homeruns you’re probably looking at another win or two.
They can make a wise decision when Yoshi is healthy and pull the plug on a guy they’ve already seen enough from, at the same time, had they allowed Michael Chavis to play more consistently early on perhaps they’d already know what more exposure might create. I could argue more Chavis and less Yoshi early on is probably worth a couple wins.
None of that has anything to do with more money right now. All of it has to do with making decisions more decisively.
They could have not acquired players like Yu Chang, or Josh VanMeter heck that would mean spending even less! That could have led to more consistent early playing time for Castillo or Marcano, maybe even Bae. Who knows what that would effect. On the other hand, they could have been far more stubborn with Bryse Wilson as opposed to sending him down for Roansy. They could have been far more stubborn with Rodolfo Castro too I suppose.
Everything this year is about learning, and all I can really say is 2022 was never going to be the beginning of some window opening.
Some of you like to get upset about all these “fake media fights” that go on amongst people on social media. Most of you don’t realize it’s not about competing, it’s about misleading. When some stooge is out there telling you this team should add at the deadline this year because they might be able to squeak into a wild card, well, I’m sorry, that’s stupid.
If someone wants to tell you the rebuild isn’t working because the team isn’t good this year, again, I’m sorry, why? The only way to feel that way is if you truly believed the function of the rebuild was supposed to make 2022 a good team. You can say you don’t think it will work because you don’t believe they can develop, that’s fine, and it’s founded in a very real concern. But man, it you think everything should have turned around for this year, just no.
You don’t have to like that. In fact, you’re probably weird if you do. Entering a season essentially saying ‘we aren’t in this’, well that just sucks. But folks, you don’t enter a full on tear down like this and expect overnight success.
For some of you, it’s just a matter of wanting to see them try. Meaning, go get some players and give us something to watch. OK, let’s ignore what I wrote up there about seeing all the youngsters get playing time, and pretend it isn’t a necessary function of this process.
You have the Cincinnati Reds from a few years ago or the Detroit Tigers of this year. The Reds pushed their chips in too early, they had a nice core and a nice crop of rookies on the way, instead of waiting for a couple of those rookies to come up like India and Greene, they went and got Bauer, and Moustakas. Castellanos and Gray. They went for it I remember hearing. Craig and I both immediately started yelling they pulled the trigger too early and you’re watching right now why. It was an effort to make something of the Votto contract and an acknowledgement they couldn’t afford to extend all their own guys to keep the window pried open long enough.
The Tigers, well they saw their number one overall pick Spencer Torkelson coming up with Casey Mize and a bunch of other youth they’ve been slowly injecting. They went and got some guys who haven’t helped much and Mize is on his way to TJ. On top of everything else they’re underperforming. Probably pushed their chips in a year early.
Both of those clubs have something in common, a history of actually spending, and I mean to a meaningful degree periodically. Both of them got ants in their pants and potentially hurt their effort.
The Pirates, well you already know, they don’t have that history. They have a history of spending when the window opens, but not enough, and certainly not enough to keep it open longer.
I still remember what Bob Nutting will be expected to do, and I still remember he hasn’t done enough in the past, but quite honestly, to take this process in, I put him aside because until it’s asked for, this entire process is on Ben Cherington.